Winning a major event in a CSI5* is hard. Winning two in a row is considered a huge challenge. But to make a full house in a World Cup competition, taking over the three most important races, including the Grand Prix, is setting a real milestone. And the French rider Julien Epaillard did all of that in IFEMA Madrid Horse Week, closing the weekend with his third triumph in the Ciudad de Madrid Grand Prix, a puntuable course for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup.
Epaillard brought his competitiveness, proved by his more than 50 international victories this season. And he leaves with three more wins, three of those that every professional rider craves: three big races of a 5* World Cup competition. The French won on Friday with double zero with «Billabong du Roumois», on Saturday’s Winning Round with «Solero MS» and today again, also flawless, with «Billabong du Roumois». A few months ago the 10-year-old horse son of «Mylord Carthago» and mare by «Papillon Rouge» was competing in 1.40 in France with an amateur rider. And both dazzled today. In the few months the horse has been in Epaillard’s stable, the French has already won three international Grand Prix: Gorla Minore (3), St. Lô (4) and Madrid.
Julien Epaillard was once again supersonic. At this high-level competition nobody runs slow, but the French, in his youth fond of motorcycle racing, has the quickness in his genes. He proved it on track, since he had a very tight clock to beat and then he flew in the jump-off, getting away by more than a second and a half from the second classified, the German David Will.
The course of 13 obstacles, with a triple vertical-vertical-bottom (8.40 and 8.10 meters), conditioned by a loop at 22.80 meters by the Estrella Damm oxer. Obstacle number 10 was also a double combination vertical-oxer separated by 11.20 meters. With heights of 1.60 meters, the poles went down in many jumps, although many of the pairs found it difficult to flew over the third element of the triple.
The Sweden Douglas Lindelöw was the first to get a clear round. He did so with «Casquo Blue» and then had to wait until the 26th competitor to get a new clear round and thus pass to the barrage. In the final stretch the best of the ranking signed four more zeros: Denis Lynch with «GC Chopin’s Bushi», Marcus Ehning with «Stargold», Max Kühner with «Eic Coriolis des Isles» and David Will with «C Vier».
The jump-off had 8 obstacles, with a very clear track, which always contributes to the spectacular nature of this races. Julien Epaillard got the first zero of the barrage and caused a sensation, not only for its speed, but also for the chosen path, risking every possible turn and always jumping on the sides of the fences. The Frenchman stopped the clock in 41.24 seconds and no one could beat him.
The German David Will was the closest with the 13-year-old «C Vier», the skilled son of «Cardento 933» with a nice jump, but whose performance against the clock is not great, and finished in 42.17 seconds. The Irish Denis Lynch signed the third clear round with «GC Chopin’s Bushi», a veteran son of «Contendro II» (15 years old), in 42.87 seconds.
The start of Marcus Ehning was critical. The German was prepared to take risks with already brilliant results in Madrid behind him. The German ran with an impressive gallop that allowed him to set the best time of the jump-off. But his stallion «Stargold», a 10-year-old son of «Stakkato Gold», likes to bounce and did so on the turn to the penultimate vertical so Ehning miss the distance and that pole down snatched his victory.
«Jarlín de Torres», the Spanish clear round
It was not a full zero, because he got a penalty for excess of time, but Manuel Fernández Saro and «Jarlín de Torres» performed a brilliant test without faults and showing control on the 1’60 track, like the Spanish has proved in outdoor and now also indoor competitions. The Sevillian rider and the son of «Jarnac» were seventh, after finishing the course in 70.05 seconds, exceeding the barrier of 69.
Two other Spanish pairs were left at the gates of the barrage with a 4 points. The best ranked was Sergio Álvarez Moya with «Malibu de Muze». The Asturian dominated the test, but the first vertical of the triple touched the floor and had to settle for the fourteenth place. «He is a good horse, I still need to tame him completely», said the rider to Ecuestre magazine.
The other Spanish who managed to complete the Grand Prix with one fault was Mariano Martínez Bastida. The rider and «Belano vd Wijnhoeve Z» made a magnificent performance until the penultimate obstacle. To the 4 points was added a penalty point for time.